Health alert on pet rats’ kiss of death

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 5, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

Rats

A girl plays with Paddington the rat at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. According to the Australian Rodent Fanciers Society of NSW, rats and mice are generally misunderstood and make fantastic pets. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Source: Herald Sun





AN Adelaide woman who kissed and cuddled her pet rodents was admitted to intensive care with rat bite fever, prompting warnings about pet handling hygiene.


An article by SA Pathology employees in today’s Medical Journal of Australia, says the 26-year-old office worker spent 17 days in the Royal Adelaide Hospital last year after she contracted the potentially deadly streptobacillus moniliformis infection, also known as rat bite fever.

The Australian Veterinary Association and SA Health say good hygiene, particularly hand washing, is important after contact with pets.

Co-author of the article and infectious diseases physician Narin Bak said the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit with severe headache and fever and developed severe pneumonitis and meningitis (inflammation of the lungs and brain).

“This condition was more prevalent in the past and is associated with slums and poor living conditions,” Dr Bak said.

He said it was usually pet shop workers and the owners of pet rats who were now at risk.

“As pet rodents become more popular as household pets, more cases of S. moniliformis infection due to affectionate contact are likely to occur,” the report says.

The woman, who has since fully recovered, was not bitten, but said she had liked to kiss and cuddle her two pets.

“As this case demonstrates, a bite is not necessary for infection – close contact with rodents may be sufficient.”

The disease can be transmitted from handling and exposure to excreta or saliva of rodents such as rats or guinea pigs.

Dr Bak said the case also highlighted the need for a full history, including animal exposure, from all patients presenting with a fever.

Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association spokesman David Mason said many zoonotic diseases could be passed between humans and their pets if good hygiene practices were not followed.

Examples included ringworm, giardia, cat scratch fever and roundworm.

“It’s really important to wash your hands and don’t come into contact with animal faeces,” Dr Mason said.

He said pet owners should take care after playing with animals. Pets should not be allowed to lick your face.

Article source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/warning-on-pet-handling-after-rat-bite-fever/story-e6frea8c-1226275273334

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